02/03/2016 05:28 EST | Updated 02/03/2016 05:59 EST

Meeting Missing, Murdered Women's Families Was 'Powerful': Minister

Darryl Dyck/CP

PRINCE GEORGE, B.C. — British Columbia's minister of aboriginal relations says a three-day gathering with family members of murdered and missing women was historic, powerful and moving.

John Rustad says the event in Prince George gave relatives a chance to recount their experiences about the loss of their loved ones.

About 350 family members attended the gathering hosted by the province and several indigenous organizations including the Assembly of First Nations.

Rustad says a repeated theme was that aboriginal women affected by violence often feel invisible and silenced by the system.

He says their concerns will be forwarded to the second National Roundtable on Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women and Girls, to be held in Winnipeg later this month.

An RCMP report has said almost 1,200 aboriginal women have been murdered or have vanished since 1980, at least 16 of them along B.C.'s so-called Highway of Tears between Prince George and Prince Rupert.

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